Kansas bill would reveal names of juvenile sex offenders

Posted: Updated:
Keith Hawkins was sentenced on on February 9, 2018, for the deaths of Alyssa Runyon and Zaylynn Paz Keith Hawkins was sentenced on on February 9, 2018, for the deaths of Alyssa Runyon and Zaylynn Paz

The family of a Newton mother and daughter who were killed last year is pushing for a new law that would reveal the names of child sex offenders.

Keith Hawkins was sentenced this month to life without the possibility of parole for the deaths of 24-year-old Alyssa Runyon and 4-year-old Zaylynn Paz. In a letter to Runyon's family, Hawkins said he harmed the child first. 

When Hawkins was 12 years old, he was convicted of indecent liberties with a 5-year-old girl. But because he was a juvenile when he committed the crime, a judge sealed Hawkins' record.

A criminal complaint dated June 22, 2017, alleges Hawkins failed to register as a sex offender within three days of coming to Harvey County.

"My daughter and granddaughter were murdered because they had no idea about this guy," Alyssa's father, Edward Runyon, said.

Runyon's father says had Hawkins' criminal history been made public, his daughter and granddaughter might still be alive. He testified before a House committee in Topeka, trying to pass the "Aly-Zay Law," which would no longer conceal the names of juvenile sex offenders who are required to register on the state's offender registry

Representative John Whitmer is helping the family enact the law.

"This now confessed, convicted murderer was welcomed into the home of his victims who had no idea about his criminal past," Whitmer told the committee.

The Kansas Department of Corrections and other rehabilitation groups are against the proposed law, saying juveniles can change and that publicly shaming them isn't right. 

Runyon's aunt, Sarah Good, told lawmakers "there's no way we will ever know if this law had been in place, if it would've changed the outcome. But if you enact this change in the law, then you can in good conscience say that it will not be because there was not a piece of legislation that allowed the public to protect themselves."

The House committee will meet Monday to discuss the bill further.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.